Odinga who was received at the conference venue by Council of Governors (CoG) Chairperson Ms Anne Waiguru and several governors led by Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii, began his speech with the Swahili saying: ‘nyani haoni kundule,’ translated to ‘the monkey does not see his ass,’ pointing at insincerity on Ruto’s government.
A day after Whitman threw her weight behind President William Ruto’s government, endorsing his win at last year’s presidential polls as legitimate and promising the present regime total support and stronger ties with the US government, Odinga on Thursday told off the ambassador, with senators under Azimio political outfit terming the envoy’s remarks as insensitive to Kenyans given what is happening in the country.
“I want to tell the rogue ambassador, leave Kenyans alone,” Odinga said in his parting shot while delivering a keynote address at the Devolution conference on Thursday afternoon.
“If ‘maandamano’ (demos) can lead to dialogue between Ichungwah and Kalonzo, then everything is good in ‘maandamano’ (demos),” he stated, cheering from a section of the delegates.
“Tell the rogue ambassador, Kenya is neither the US nor is it a colony of the United States. Keep your mouth shut while you are here. Otherwise, we will call for your recall back to your country,” he added.
The opposition leader’s rejoinder came moments after his Azimio brigade of senators had criticized at a press conference, the US envoy over her statements at the Devolution conference where she endorsed the election of President William Ruto.
The 2022 General Election outcome was hotly contested by the Azimio la Umoja- One Kenya coalition, with the dispute landing before the Supreme Court, which eventually also upheld Ruto’s victory, to the displeasure of the Opposition.
In her address, while pitching strongly for Kenya as Africa’s best investment destination for the international community, Whitman did not hide the fact that she is enthusiastic about the country’s investment prospects and climate, noting that the Ruto administration has made great strides and is committed to building a business-friendly environment.
The US envoy who reported to Kenya in July 2023 just before the last general election said she is focused on strengthening the US-Kenya trade relationship in coordination with the state.
“I arrived in Kenya days before the August 2022 General Election. What I witnessed was nothing short of remarkable, Kenya held what many analysts said was the freest, fairest, and most credible in Kenyan history,” she stated.
“The elections were observed by international organisations and upheld by the Supreme Court and power was transferred ordinarily and peacefully at the time,” she said.
The remarks were like opening an unhealed wound to the opposition Azimio brigade, since they had bitterly contested the 2022 General Election.
Azimio felt the envoy was meddling in the affairs of Kenya and did not hide their displeasure with her remarks.
However, Raila lauded governors for putting their differences aside ‘and finding time away from our toxic politics to forge the way forward for Kenya.’
Before Odinga arrived at the devolution forum, Azimio senators had also convened a press conference and hit out at Whitman terming her Wednesday comments as unfortunate and expressing hope that they were personal and not representing the position of the American government.
“In any case, Kenyan politicians and diplomats have never taken positions on American elections, imperfect and indecisive as they have been from the Bush/Al Gore to the Biden/Trump contests,” the senators stated.
In her powerful pitch in which she strongly pitched for Kenya as Africa region’s best investment hub, Whitman stated that Kenya’s high tax burden was “alright” as long as it was consistent, while on corruption, she praised Kenya for doing better than India and Venezuela, and that American businesses had no reservations with Kenya.
In a rejoinder, however, Azimio senators said the remarks were out of touch with the realities in Kenya.
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